Carolina Panthers: 4 new individual battles to watch against the Saints

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Robby Anderson
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) Robby Anderson /
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Donte Jackson, Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Donte Jackson /

Carolina Panthers Matchup No. 1: Donte Jackson vs Michael Thomas

Donte Jackson is going to get all he can handle with the Carolina Panthers next season. The cornerback is the team’s new No. 1 option at the position following the free agency departure of James Bradberry to the New York Giants. And hopes are high as he takes a significant step-up in class.

There is nothing to suggest that the former LSU standout is not more than ready for such a responsibility. He is tremendously quick and can go down the field with any opposing wide receiver. So if Jackson can cut out rash decision-making at times, then the transition should be a smooth one.

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He will not find things easy by any stretch of the imagination. Covering the best wideouts in the business on a consistent basis is going to be a baptism of fire for the player. And Jackson will need to sure up one side of the field if they don’t want to be further exposed in their secondary.

One of the toughest challenges facing Jackson in 2020 is coming up against Michael Thomas. The New Orleans Saints star enjoyed a historic campaign last time out. And the pair know plenty about each other following their time together in college with the Tigers.

Thomas is a rare commodity that can take on a heavy workload and provide exceptional consistency. He was targeted a staggering 180 times last season, securing an NFL record 149 receptions, 1,725 yards, and nine touchdowns.

This was enough to earn Thomas a lofty 90.4 grade from Pro Football Focus. It also officially elevated him into the NFL’s best wideout conversation. He can impact a game anywhere on the field. And Jackson will need to be at his best in order to limit his productivity.